BAGHDAD, Dec. 31 (Xinhua) -- A wave of bombings and shootings killed 22 people and wounded at least 69 others on Monday across Iraq, as the country grappled with anti-government protests and political row ahead of an annual major Shiite ritual.
In the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, a suicide bomber drove his explosive-trapped car into a procession of Shiite pilgrims in Karrada district in center of the city, leaving four people dead and 16 others injured, a well-placed source at Interior Ministry told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
Five policemen were killed and six others wounded, including a civilian, in Iraq's northern city of Kirkuk, when a bomb went off as the officers were trying to defuse the explosive, a local police source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua.
Meantime, earlier in the day, another attack took place when gunmen blew up three bombs at three houses at the town of al- Mussayab, 60 km south of Baghdad, killing seven people and injuring four others.
Separately, a mortar round landed near a procession of Shiite pilgrims in Al-Latifiyah, 40 km south of Baghdad, leaving three people injured, a local police source said.
Both towns are part of the once restive area dubbed "Triangle of Death", which is a cluster of towns scattered between south of Baghdad and north of Hilla city, 100 km south of Baghdad.
In Hilla city, the capital of Babil province, a car parked near a Shiite mosque detonated, killing one pilgrim and wounding three others.
Meanwhile, another car bomb hit the convoy of the provincial governor, damaging one of his convoy's vehicles and wounding three of his bodyguards aboard, the source said.
The governor escaped the attack unharmed, the source added.
In Iraq's eastern province of Diyala, roadside bombs and gunfire attacks targeted Iraqi security forces and Shiite pilgrims across the province, killing at least five people and wounding about 32 others, said a local policeman.
Elsewhere, a car bomb went off near a police patrol in the city of Tuz-Khurmato, some 200 north of Baghdad, wounded two civilians, a local police source said.
The attacks on the Shiite community came just days before the commemoration of the major Shiite ritual of Arbaeen.
Arbaeen marks the end of 40 days of mourning after the anniversary of the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Mohammad's grandson who was killed at the battle of Karbala in 680 A.D.
The latest attacks also came amid continuing anti-government demonstrations in several Sunni-dominated cities protesting against marginalization by the Shiite-led government as well as the alleged arrest of hundreds of Sunnis.
The demonstrators also accused the Shiite-dominated security forces of arresting women instead of the wanted male of their family members.
The protests were first sparked last week after the Iraqi security forces arrested chief of the Sunni Finance Minister Rafia al-Issawi's protection force and nine bodyguards over charges of terrorism.
At the end of last year, an arrest warrant was issued against the Sunni Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi on charges of running death squad and dozens of his bodyguards were arrested.
Soon after the U.S. troops fully withdrew from Iraq late last year, Iraq plunged into serious political row as Maliki sought to arrest his political rival Hashimi, a leading member of the Sunni- backed Iraqia bloc, over terror charges.
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